Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

  • Lauren Donnelly
Keywords: Metrorail, Dulles Corridor, cost-benefit analysis, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, WMATA, New Starts Project, transit benefits, environmental benefits, job creation, public good, transportation projects, Silver Line, sensitivity analysis


This cost-benefit analysis studies several significant costs and benefits of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. The two major costs of construction and operating expenses and the two major benefits of passenger benefits and car miles saved have been used to analyze the project over a 30-year period starting in 2009, to include four years of construction followed by 26 years of Metro operation. The project was determined to have a net cost of $1.78 billion. With the exception of the first four years, in which construction costs would be incurred but the other three costs and benefits would not yet be realized, the project creates annual benefits of $32 million or greater. Additionally, a break-even analysis was performed within the sensitivity analysis to determine the year in which net benefits would begin accruing on the project. This year was found to be 2063, or 54 years into the project (including four years of construction and 50 years of service). Any following years in which the Metrorail was still operating would create increasing net benefits.

Author Biography

Lauren Donnelly
Lauren Donnelly is a graduate of The George Washington University where she received her Master’s of Public Policy in May 2008. She graduated with B.A. in Economics and Spanish from Bucknell University in 2005. She began her career at the U.S. General Services Administration as a Contract Specialist, working there for over three years before recently starting work at the Federal Railroad Administration under the U.S. Department of Transportation as an Industry Economist